Just like humans, pets can become overweight and experience a wide range of health concerns related to the extra pounds. Not only does the extra weight exert extra stress to bones, joints and ligaments, but an overweight pet is also more at risk of developing diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, increased blood pressure, thyroid problems, heat intolerance, difficulty breathing, lower stamina, decreased liver function, increased surgical/anesthetic risk, reproductive problems, digestive disorders, decreased immune system, increased cancer risk, skin and hair problems and decreased life span and quality of life.
How do you know if your pet is overweight? Ask your veterinarian, they will examine your pet and give your pet a body condition score on a scale of 1 – 5, with 3 being ideal, 1 too thin and 5 obese.
Here are 5 tips to help an overweight pet:
1) Mind the calories – know your pets daily caloric requirement. A veterinarian can help you to determine this amount more accurately than the feeding guides on your bag of pet food. Factors such as whether your pet is spayed/neutered can significantly change the caloric requirement of your pet.
2) Portion control – change to a smaller food dish and get an accurate food scoop to measure out the food. It is easier to overfill a larger dish because it looks close to empty. No more free feeding as you have no way to keep track of how many calories your pet is ingesting. Meals must be precisely measured to ensure your pet is not overeating. Several smaller meals instead of one or two larger ones, may work for the pet that seems hungry all the time.
3) Try a weight loss food – ask your veterinary team to recommend a good high quality weight loss food for your pet. These foods are specially designed to meet all of your pets needs while having reduced calories and fat, and often have increased fiber to help your pet feel full for longer.
4) Watch the treats – if you give your pets bones, biscuits or any other treats, these also contribute to that daily caloric requirement. Which means you will need to cut back on the food according to how many treats you give your pet. Some good lower calorie high fiber options for treats include carrot sticks!
5) Get Moving – a daily dose of exercise is good for your pets health and will help them to expend some calories. Try to aim for a daily 30 minute walk.
The goal is to get your pet to their ideal weight over time. A rapid weight loss is not healthy for your pet. Stop in at your veterinary clinic every 2 weeks for a weigh in and some encouragement! The process can take some time, but remember your pet did not gain all of that weight overnight! Putting in the work to help your pet lose weight or prevent excess weight gain is well worth the effort as you will be rewarded with a happier healthier pet!
Call us at Chestermere Veterinary Clinic to ask us for a food recommendation or to find out more on how to help your pet 403-272-3573, or visit us on Facebook!
Drs. Foster & Smith. Pet Education.com. Health risks in overweight or obese dogs. Web Sept 10, 2015. http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+1659&aid=694
That Pet Blog. 5 Simple Steps to Prevent Pet Obesity. Web Sept 10, 2015. http://www.thatpetblog.com/2015/07/02/5-simple-steps-to-prevent-pet-obesity